How Does Brushing Your Teeth Protect Your Heart?
Dec 17 2019 Read 924 Times
In a new study spearheaded by the European Society of Cardiology, a team of researchers is asserting that regular toothbrushing not only promotes oral and dental hygiene, but also protects the heart. The study was published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology and links regular teeth brushing to a lowered risk of heart failure and atrial fibrillation.
"Healthier oral hygiene by frequent tooth brushing and professional dental cleaning may reduce risk of atrial fibrillation and heart failure," reads the abstract published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.
The link between heart health and oral hygiene
In the past, studies have explored the link between poor oral hygiene and growth of bacteria in the bloodstream, which can trigger inflammation throughout the body. This significantly increases the risk of developing a condition known as atrial fibrillation, or irregular heartbeat. Inflammation can also impair the heart's ability to pump blood, which can lead to heart failure.
The retrospective cohort study explored the connection between oral hygiene and the two heart conditions, drawing on more than 160,000 patients from within the Korean National Health Insurance System. All were aged between 40 to 79 and has no previous history of heart failure or atrial fibrillation.
Study suggests regular brushing lowers risk of heart failure by 12%
Over 10 years, almost 5% of participants developed heart failure and 3% of developed atrial fibrillation. When cross-referenced with data on oral hygiene habits, the team found that toothbrushing three or more times a day translated to a 12% lower risk of heart failure and 10% lower risk of atrial fibrillation. While the findings didn't factor in variables such as age, sex, socioeconomic status, exercise routines and alcohol consumption, senior author of the study Dr. Tae-Jin Song maintains the long time period and large research group "adds strength to our findings."
"It is certainly too early to recommend tooth brushing for the prevention of atrial fibrillation and congestive heart failure," reads an editorial released as part of the study. "While the role of inflammation in the occurrence of cardiovascular disease is becoming more and more evident, intervention studies are needed to define strategies of public health importance."
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